Bris­tol-My­ers and Seat­tle Ge­net­ics move a promis­ing flag­ship com­bo in­to PhI­II

Jonathan Drach­man, Seat­tle Ge­net­ics CMO

Late last year in­ves­ti­ga­tors for Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb $BMY and Seat­tle Ge­net­ics $SGEN turned up at ASH with some stel­lar pi­lot da­ta from a Phase I/II com­bi­na­tion study match­ing Op­di­vo with Ad­cetris. In ad­di­tion to a 90% ob­jec­tive re­sponse rate in a small group of pa­tients, the team al­so tracked a 62% com­plete re­sponse rate among treat­ment-re­sis­tant pa­tients for clas­si­cal Hodgkin lym­phoma.

Now the part­ners want to see if they can get sim­i­lar re­sults in a piv­otal Phase III matchup.

The two com­pa­nies head­ed to AS­CO this morn­ing with an an­nounce­ment that they’ll be push­ing in­to the Phase III soon, which will com­pare the com­bo against Ad­cetris as a monother­a­py.

The move in­to Phase III comes as the first wave of hun­dreds of Phase I/II ex­plorato­ry stud­ies have be­gun to de­liv­er a trove of da­ta about the po­ten­tial of these new com­bos. This week EP Van­tage high­light­ed 765 com­bi­na­tion stud­ies in the in­dus­try pipeline as can­cer com­bos be­come one of the hottest tick­ets in drug R&D. And a new slate of Phase III stud­ies — in­clud­ing a re­cent­ly an­nounced slate of piv­otal tie-ups for In­cyte — point to the near-term in­tro­duc­tion of new, more ef­fec­tive ther­a­pies.

The ad­di­tion of Ad­cetris and Op­di­vo helps il­lus­trate the po­ten­tial. Op­di­vo, like 4 oth­er ap­proved PD-(L)1s, dis­man­tles a brake can­cer cells have been able to put on an at­tack by im­mune cells. Ad­cetris is a tar­get­ed at­tack. And there’s a large sec­ond wave of PD-(L)1s com­ing through the pipeline.

This is just the first of what could po­ten­tial­ly prove to be a se­ries of late-stage stud­ies for these two com­pa­nies, which have al­so been run­ning through tri­als on a range of in­di­ca­tions fo­cused on re­lapsed or re­frac­to­ry Hodgkin lym­phoma and CD30-ex­press­ing re­lapsed or re­frac­to­ry non-Hodgkin lym­phomas. The stud­ies in­clude T-cell lym­phomas, dif­fuse large B-cell lym­phoma (DL­B­CL), and oth­er rare sub­types of B-cell ma­lig­nan­cies, in­clud­ing me­di­asti­nal B-cell lym­phoma and me­di­asti­nal gray zone lym­phoma.

Seat­tle Ge­net­ics CMO Jonathan Drach­man said:

We are eval­u­at­ing Ad­cetris in nov­el com­bi­na­tions in or­der to iden­ti­fy op­ti­mal treat­ment reg­i­mens for pa­tients with CD30-ex­press­ing lym­phomas. We are pleased to ex­pand this col­lab­o­ra­tion with Bris­tol-My­ers Squibb to eval­u­ate Ad­cetris com­pared to the com­bi­na­tion of Ad­cetris and Op­di­vo in a piv­otal phase 3 study in re­lapsed Hodgkin lym­phoma.

Ab­b­Vie wins an ap­proval in uter­ine fi­broid-as­so­ci­at­ed heavy bleed­ing. Are ri­vals My­ovant and Ob­sE­va far be­hind?

Women expel on average about 2 to 3 tablespoons of blood during their time of the month. But with uterine fibroids, heavy bleeding is typical — a third of a cup or more. Drugmakers have been working on oral therapies to try and stem the flow, and as expected, AbbVie and their partners at Neurocrine Biosciences are the first to make it across the finish line.

Known chemically as elagolix, the drug is already approved as a treatment for endometriosis under the brand name Orilissa. It targets the GnRH receptor to decrease the production of estrogen and progesterone.

As­traZeneca trum­pets the 'mo­men­tous' da­ta they found for Tagris­so in an ad­ju­vant set­ting for NSCLC — but many of the ex­perts aren’t cheer­ing along

AstraZeneca is rolling out the big guns this evening to provide a salute to their ADAURA data on Tagrisso at ASCO.

Cancer R&D chief José Baselga calls the disease-free survival data for their drug in an adjuvant setting of early stage, epidermal growth factor receptor-mutated NSCLC patients following surgery “momentous.” Roy Herbst, the principal investigator out of Yale, calls it “transformative.”

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David Chang, Allogene CEO (Jeff Rumans)

Head­ed to PhII: Al­lo­gene CEO David Chang com­pletes a pos­i­tive ear­ly snap­shot of their off-the-shelf CAR-T pi­o­neer

Allogene CEO David Chang has completed the upbeat first portrait of the biotech’s off-the-shelf CAR-T contender ALLO-501 at virtual ASCO today, keeping all eyes on a drug that will now try to go on to replace the first-wave personalized pioneers he helped create.

The overall response rate outlined in Allogene’s abstract for treatment-resistant patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma slipped a little from the leadup, but if you narrow the patient profile to treatment-naïve patients — removing the 3 who had previous CAR-T therapy who didn’t respond, leaving 16 — the ORR lands at 75% with a 44% complete response rate. And 9 of the 12 responders remained in response at the data cutoff, offering a glimpse on durability that still has a long way to go before it can be completely nailed down.

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Pablo Legorreta, founder and CEO of Royalty Pharma AG, speaks at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Cap­i­tal­iz­ing Pablo: The world’s biggest drug roy­al­ty buy­er is go­ing pub­lic. And the low-key CEO di­vulges a few se­crets along the way

Pablo Legorreta is one of the most influential players in biopharma you likely never heard of.

Over the last 24 years, Legorreta’s Royalty Pharma group has become, by its own reckoning, the biggest buyer of drug royalties in the world. The CEO and founder has bought up a stake in a lengthy list of the world’s biggest drug franchises, spending $18 billion in the process — $2.2 billion last year alone. And he’s become one of the best-paid execs in the industry, reaping $28 million from the cash flow last year while reserving 20% of the cash flow, less expenses, for himself.

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Fabrice Chouraqui, Cellarity CEO-partner (LinkedIn)

Drug de­vel­op­er, Big Phar­ma com­mer­cial ex­ec, now an up­start biotech chief — Fab­rice Chouraqui is ready to try some­thing new as a ‘CEO-part­ner’ at Flag­ship

Fabrice Chouraqui’s career has taken some big twists along his life journey. He got his PharmD at Université Paris Descartes and jumped into the drug development game for a bit. Then he took a sharp turn and went back to school to get his MBA at Insead before returning to pharma on the commercial side.

Twenty years later, after steadily rising through the ranks and journeying the globe to nab a top job as president of US pharma for the Basel-based Novartis, Chouraqui exited in another career switch. And now he’s headed into a hybrid position as a CEO-partner at Flagship, where he’ll take a shot at leading Cellarity — one of the VC’s latest paradigm-changing companies of the groundbreaking model that aspires to deliver a new platform to the world of drug R&D.

Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Getty Images)

Sanofi CEO Paul Hud­son has $23B burn­ing a hole in his pock­et. And here are some hints on how he plans to spend that

Sanofi has reaped $11.1 billion after selling off a big chunk of its Regeneron stock at $515 a share. And now everyone on the M&A side of the business is focused on how CEO Paul Hudson plans to spend it.

After getting stung in France for some awkward politicking — suggesting the US was in the front of the line for Sanofi’s vaccines given American financial support for their work, versus little help from European powers — Hudson now has the much more popular task of managing a major cash cache to pull off something in the order of a big bolt-on. Or two.

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As­traZeneca’s $7B ADC suc­ceeds where Roche failed, im­prov­ing sur­vival in gas­tric can­cer

Another day, another win for Enhertu.

The antibody-drug conjugate AstraZeneca promised up-to $7 billion to partner on has had a quite a few months, beginning with splashy results in a Phase II breast cancer trial, a rapid approval and, earlier this month, breakthrough designations in both non-small cell lung cancer and gastric cancer.

Now, at ASCO, the British pharma and their Japanese partner, Daiichi Sankyo, have shown off the data that led to the gastric cancer designation, which they’ll take back to the FDA. In a pivotal, 187-person Phase II trial, Enhertu shrunk tumors in 42.9% of third-line patients with HER2-positive stomach cancer, compared with 12.5% in a control arm where doctors prescribed their choice of therapy. Progression-free survival was 5.4 months for Enhertu compared to 3.5 months for the control.

Once a gem, now just a rock, Take­da punts PhI­II IBD drug as ri­vals mus­cle ahead

Back in 2016, when then-Shire CEO Flemming Ørnskov picked up a promising clinical-stage IBD drug from Pfizer, the Boston-based biotech dubbed it SHP647 and moved it into the gem section of the pipeline, with rosy expectations of registration-worthy Phase III data ahead.

This was a drug that the EC wanted Takeda to commit to selling off before it gave their blessing to its acquisition of Shire, to settle some deep-seated concerns revolving around the potential market overlap with their blockbuster rival Entyvio. And Takeda, which took on a heavy debt load to buy Shire, clearly wanted the cash to pay down debt.

Ear­ly sur­vival da­ta boost Zio­phar­m's 'con­trolled IL-12' im­munother­a­py for glioblas­toma

An unconventional pairing of a gene therapy and an oral drug that promises to attack recurrent or progressive glioblastoma with controlled release of IL-12 has turned up more promising — if early — overall survival data. On top of boosting its case as a monotherapy, the data can also bode well for a combination with Regeneron’s PD-1 inhibitor, Libtayo.

Both the treatment and its developer, Ziopharm Oncology, have come a long way. The stock price peaked in 2015 but cratered in 2016 following a patient death in a Phase I.